Friday, December 29, 2006

Sperm Storage Fees: The Annual Question

no. 320

It's late December again and we received the addendum to our storage agreement asking us to determine if we want to continue to store the unused vials of the donor's sperm. I last spoke about this in September 2005. We still don't know what to do.

A week does not go by that my wife doesn't comment that she wants another baby. I actually want more children as well. But financially it would not be easy or even fair to our existing kids to have another child considering our current liabilities. Living here in NYC is not cheap and for all I know our kids may to attend private school based on the condition of the local grade school (but that is another story).

Part of me wants to keep the vials for us. Part of me wants to keep them for another family that has already used our donor for one child but who do not have more vials to create a sibling. My wife has suggested we destroy them but I am not yet at that point. Certainly with storage fees at approximately $350 / year we can't keep the vials indefinitely.

I liked the idea of sending one vial for testing but that did not seem so cheap either although it would be a single one time fee and would perhaps shed more light on the donor and what genes may have been passed on to my kids.

I don't know what to do. We have to decide in a few weeks. My wife actually suggested last night that we sell them back to the cryobank so we can get some money back and if there were other families interested in this donor they'd have the ability to use him now. He was one of the few Jewish donors at that bank.

At this point I am betting another $350 will be charged to my credit card with no decision really being made. See you in another year when I bring this up again.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Voices of Donor Conception Book is Now Available

no. 319
The first book in the Voices of Donor Conception book series has been published. I am now a published essayist.

It's kind of strange to see my words in print in a real book. Seeing my writing here on the screen seems normal after publishing several websites and blogs over the years but a real book is pretty cool.

The book, titled "Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame" includes essays by donor conceived individuals including Ryan Kramer, Rebecca Hamilton, and Karen from Whose Daughter. Kirk Maxie contributed an essay about his experiences as a donor. And Wendy Kramer (Donor Sibling Registry) and Olivia Montuschi (Donor Conception Network) contributed as biological parents and as individuals with vast experience on the topics they each discuss.

The book has a companion website where individuals can contribute their reactions, their own stories and read what others have to say about the essays in the book. There is also a Yahoo discussion group created to encourage two way discussion on the topics discussed in the book and in general.

Mikki Morrissette is the editor of the book and contributes her own essays to open and close this volume of the series. Mikki is also the author of Choosing Single Motherhood.

The book only arrived last night by mail so I have not yet read through it all but already I believe it to be an important book to see various sides of the issues written in the first person presented together.

I recently purchased another book titled "Who Am I ? Experiences of Donor Conception" which only presented the view of three different donor conveived individuals. I have not received it. It will be interesting to read both books to compare and contrast the experiences and thoughts discussed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One DI Related Column - Many Shadings

no. 318

During the past week Ellen Goodman of the Washington Post Writers Group published her syndicated column which included a piece which focused partially on donor conception and which began by looking at the Mary Cheney - Heather Poe pregnancy which supposedly was conceived using anonymous donor sperm. What I find amazing is how the editors of the papers running this column all shade and color the story by their choice of column titles.

Now as I always wonder would this story have been raised to this level if the Vice President had a son who together with his wife chose to use DI? Who am I kidding we would never have known unless that son and his wife were brave enough to be public about it.

If anybody found another version of the Goodman column not mentioned below please let me know in the comments section. I am sure Ms. Goodman is syndicated in more papers than I have included below.

TruthDig - 12/20/2006
"Who's Your Daddy?" - 12/21/2006
Concord Monitor - 12/21/2006
Arizona Daily Star - 12/22/2006

"Figure in the father factor"
The Boston Globe - 12/22/2006

"Looking for Mr. Right donor"
The Seattle Times - 12/22/2006

"Sperm donors are still biological dads"
Lawrence Journal World - 12/23/2006

"Whose your daddy? Children have the right to know"
Utica Observer Dispatch - 12/24/2006

"Donation isn't enough for the child created"
The Topeka Capital - Journal - 12/24/2006

"Cheney pregnancy raises disclosure expectations"
Kansas City Star - 12/24/2006

"However it arrives, one person's DNA is another person's 'dad'"
Pioneer Press (Twin Cities) - 12/24/2006

"Mary's having a baby"
The Buffalo News - 12/25/2006

Indianapolis Star - 12/25/2006

"There are consequences with 'donor dads'"
The Baxter Bulletin online - 12/26/2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Not Much to Say About Donor Insemination at the Moment

no. 317

This past week I don't have much to say on the topic of donor insemination or about my role as the dad to two kids conveived via DI.

I have been having fun attending classroom holiday parties and being exhausted from just being around them. How stay at home parents do this I have no clue.

But other than reading some of the articles coming out here and there I just don't have much to say. Perhaps it's end of year burn out. Perhaps I am just burned out I am not sure. My wife still gets on my case to put this blog to bed but I am not ready to do that by any means. But I would expect to hear less from me over the next week or two while I recharge.

And yes I am still trying to get myself to write the Telling post for Mel's blog and I am excited about the IIFF (noted in the post below) but unsure how to approach it..

Happy Holidays to the few folks that visit here on a regular basis and also to those of you that have just found this old blog. Don't worry I am not done.

International Infertility Film Festival

no. 316

Bea from Infertile Fantasies has launched the First International Infertilty Film Festival. In short the Festival will be held on March 31, 2007. Basically the concept is for participants to submit film shorts about any stage related to their infertility, pre, TTC, or post. Visit the site linked above (through this post title) to learn more.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Washington Post: Donor Conception Articles

no. 315

In addition to the Sperm Donor article the Washington Post is running two other articles in tomorrow's paper regarding donor conception:

The first article is from a donor-conceived person who found her donor titled:

"My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor"

By Katrina Clark
Washington Post
Sunday, December 17, 2006; Page B01

A full copy of this article can also be found in this blog's Annex.

The second article starts out discussing Mary Cheney, the vice-president's lesbian daughter, who is expecting but launches into a full discussion about donor conception:

"It's All in the Genes, Except When It Isn't"

By Liza Mundy
Washington Post
Sunday, December 17, 2006; Page B01

A Known Donor Who Is a Dad

no. 314

In tomorrow's Washington Post (December 17, 2006) is an article written by a man who is a father and dad to two children via a known donor arrangement. I use the terms father and dad as it's quite clear that this man while biologicaly the father also chose to be a dad with the blessing of the lesbian couple who asked him to be their donor. The children look upon him as their dad despite the fact that he does not live with them or have any parental rights as he gave these up.

Growing up these kids will never have any of the issues most DI kids or families have to address. Yes, it will be obvious that two moms needed outside help but that help is only a phone call away for the identity and medical issues. No feelings of stress telling family members or resentment. In fact these kids get three parents for the price of two. Sure dad does not custody or rights but the kids will probably pull him into the picture more and more as life advances for them.

Again not your typical DI story. Certainly not our story.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Are Heterosexual Couples Using DI? Not According to the Press

no. 313

My nightly online ritual not only includes visiting the Donor Sibling Registry to check for any new half siblings but to check Google for any new news articles regarding donor conception. Sometimes it feels like opposite sex couples (let me use that retro term Heterosexual) must not be using donor insemination.

Rarely a day goes by that I don't see a story or two addressing DI through a story about lesbian couples using DI (articles re gay men and surrogacy and DE are less frequent). Not that there's anything wrong with that (sorry could not resist a bit of Seinfeld).... as this segment of society for too long has had their rights curtailed unfairly.

What bothers me is that the story should be addressed from our point of view as well. Maybe this should not bother me.

Some would say that the lack of stories would indicate that DI among heterosexuals has become more accepted. But I don't think this is the case and if it was we'd have an easier time getting the next level of discussion out in respect to better regulation and reform within the industry.

Putting this aside the stories of the day are:

"US Experiences Lesbian Baby Boom"
Easier Lifestyle
December 15,2006

"Nation's Only Lesbian Sperm Bank Records 2,000th Birth"
December 15, 2006

"Full parental rights for gay couples"
December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How to Write About "How to Tell About Donor Conception"

no. 312

Mel over at Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters asked me to write an article / post about how to tell a donor conceived individual about their donor conception story. I have begun writing it but have come to the conclusion that I should not try to reinvent the wheel. What I intend to do at this point is combine my own thoughts with a travelogue to the best sites out there where this same issue has been addressed by the experts (and my thoughts on these sites).

The article would be part of a series of articles, "write ups" as Mel terms them, compliled on her web site under the heading Operation Heads Up which will include write ups about common procedures, medications, tests, and diagnoses associated with infertility. The series is also directly related to the site's Peer Infertility Counselor listing. This group is comprised of individuals who all have experience in their area of expertise and who have agreed to try an answer what questions that come their way. In many cases these same indioviduals wrote the related Operation Heads Up article.

DI Mom wrote a piece about choosing a sperm donor and I thought she did a pretty good job with the topic. I only hope I can draft an appropriate article on "Telling".

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Usage of DI Images

no. 311

The above image is of a poster from a campaign to help men take a more active and compassionate role in their children's lives. Specifically it is aimed at men who are biologically connected to their children but who apparantly may be abusive towards their children. It was interesting to see the image and how it was being used to make these men aware that unless they are involved in a positive manner they are nothing more than sperm donors to their own kids. Note the tone and content of the words describing the "dad".

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Position On and Purpose Regarding Donor Conception

no. 310

A few posts below, # 307, I offered congratulations to Mary Cheney and her partner on the news that Mary Cheney is pregnant. Based on that message I have been asked, within the comments to post # 307, what my "true" position is regarding Donor Conception. I was asked this in the context of how I could congratulate a couple who have used DI and also have been "deeply moved" by the stories of donor conceived adults who have felt true pain and sorrow at not knowing the truth of their past. In short I am being asked to explain this "inconsistency" as otherwise I must be a "hypocrite". My response to Michael / BioDad was that I would not continue the discussion left for me there on the topic. I changed my mind.

What I find interesting about this and why I am posting this today is that I don't recall ever stating that I am anti - donor conception. On the contrary I believe I my position has always been that this is an area of personal choice which must be made with as much information as possible including the knowledge that for some donor conceived adults the knowledge of their lost past and connection to their biological parent may bring with it sorrow and/or pain. This may sound like my position is anti-donor conception but in my mind it is not.

My whole point in continuing this blog and my involvement in the DC community is to learn as much as I can in order to be prepared if indeed my children do exhibit any sorrow or feelings of loss so I can help them in any way I can. My purpose is to let them know their story and answer their questions along the way. I don't expect to be defending to them why we used DI but to be there for them as they process the results.

My goals also include educating other parents who have used DI to encourage them to bring their story out in the open with their children as all secrets eventually are discovered and it is far better to open and honest than secretive and ashamed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mandating Personal Moral Decisions as Law

no. 309

In today's on-line issue of the UK "Daily Mail" there is a report that it is a possibilty that female patients receiving IVF treatments (from what I assume to be state sponsored clinics) will no longer be required to demonstrate to the doctor that the patient has taken into account a child's need for a father figure. The full article is linked via the above post title.

As an American, who does not rely on socialized medicine the concept of proving one's intent or belief's to my physician is totally foreign to me. Yes I believe that if laws exist that qualify whether state monies can be used for specific procedures those laws must be respected. But if I disagree with those laws it is my right to vote for a legislator that shares my views with the hope of changing the offending law.

In my opinion there are certain choices of family lifestyle that are personal and I have no right to tell a person how to live. My blog is written to provide information on many sides of the DC debate. I made with my wife a choice and I support others to make their own choices. I only hope their choices are made with as much information as possible.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Voices of Donor Conception: New Book Series

no. 308

Voices of Donor Conception
Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame

As stated on the book's website:

The first volume in this revolutionary collection of real stories about people affected by the donor conception industry is now available for purchase.Volume 1, Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame, includes first-person essays designed to take some of the stigma out of donor conception and enable more open conversation for families affected by donor insemination.

Essays include:

>the honest fears of an infertile father (THIS IS ME !!!);
>the motivations and concerns of a sperm donor who is in contact with one of his adult offspring;
the insight and advice of two experts (Wendy Kramer and Olivia Montuschi) who have had contact with thousands of families affected by donor conception;
>three donor-conceived grown-ups, reflecting on the effects of their origins, as well as on the misperceptions of what it means to them; ( I believe one of the three individuals is Karen frpm Whose Daughter).
>specific recommendations--some controversial--for change within the industry.
The goal of the series is to open new pathways of communication and develop a wider range of print and online resources for parents, offspring, donors, industry representatives, legislators, bioethicists, mental health professionals, and others interested in humanizing the approach to reproductive technology.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mary Cheney's DI Baby - Who's the Father ?

no. 307

I was recently asked if anyone knew of celebrities who have used DI to create their families. The only male celebrity I knew of that publicly acknowledged his infertility was Tom Arnold. I have no idea if he has kids to be honest much less if they were donor conceived.

Apparently the newest political jokes involve Vice President Cheney's daughter becomming pregnant via donor insemination and the shame (in the eyes of others) it has brought her parents. Reportedly the VP and his wife are looking forward to the birth of this grandchild. For those of you who care and are not aware Mary Cheney is a lesbian and in a commited relationship with her partner who under VA law will have no legal relationship to the child.

Back to the joke reference. Up until now celebrity news re DI focused on David Crosby being the biological father to Melissa Etheridge's child. But now people are joking who the bio father could be of Mary Cheney's child. No news has come out yet whether they selected a known donor or an anonymous one but I am sure the press will soon dig up this personal fact and let us all know in the interests of national security.

In all seriousness congratulations to the parents to be.

Donor Conception Among The Ten Trends That Will Shape Our World in 2007

no. 306

"NEW YORK, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- JWT, the largest advertising agency in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world, announces the top 10 trends for 2007, in conjunction with the release of Next Now: Trends for the Future, co- written by Marian Salzman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. The book is due out December 26 from Palgrave Macmillan.


(2) New Ties That Bind - Watch as our definition of family continues to broaden and evolve while dating takes a turn toward the traditional. Today, the family circle may include a child born from donor insemination and his/her half- siblings scattered across the country, found through online registries....."

Simply amazing.....

Blogging in Beta: Why I Made the Switch

no. 305

Ok, I made the switch. As a reader I don't think you will see many changes in the format of the blog except for one change I was waiting for: the ability to add labels or categories to each of my posts.

The only downside is that changing the format automatically removed the team members from the DI Dads Speak Out blog. For each to re-join they have to change their blog or account over to a google or blogger beta format. I hope this is not too much to ask for the labelling ability.

Hopefully this was the right decision.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wanting Babies Like Themselves, Some Parents Choose Genetic Defects

no. 304

The title of this post is that of an essay published in today's New York Times. A copy of the full text of the essay is available through the post title on this blog's Annex. The essay's title could very easily describe in some manner how many familes choose their sperm or egg donor. Perhaps we would not use the term defect but the concept is the same.

True most families choosing donor conception probably start out joking that this opportunity gives them the ability to improve the gene pool. This was true in our own case but to be honest the donor we chose in the end had as many medical conditions in his past as did my own family, many the same, according to his and his family's medical profile. So not expecting to my kids genetic medical history ended up mirroring that of my lost biological children. Did we plan on picking these defects? No we did not but others purposefully do so their kids are like themselves for varying reasons discussed in the article.

The essay is not specfically about donor conception but it does discuss a scholarly article to be published in the journal Fertility and Sterility which itself discusses the "use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., a process in which embryos are created in a test tube and their DNA is analyzed before being transferred to a woman’s uterus. "

As I mentioned the essay speaks to the issue not of parents screening out disease and disability but using the DNA analysis to ensure or support the desire that the children be like their parents, who may have varying "disabilities". The essayist refers to individuals who "suffer" from dwarfism who would rather have children who are little like them rather than "normal" size kids. Another couple who are both deaf would prefer their child be born similarly deaf rather than a child born with the gift of hearing.

One would say why are these families looking to ensure their kids are handicapped and at a disadvantage. Others woud argue just the opposite. Many in the donor conception community would again argue that the desires of the parents were taken into account first before that of the children "created".

Did we choose traits we wanted? Yes. Did we look at them as defects? No. Would we have used PGD to pick and choose prior to a transfer? I cannot say. At the point we achieved a DI IUI pregnancy we did not want an amnio and we knew whatever child we were given was a gift that we would cherish.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kansas Supreme Court Hears Case of Sperm Donor's Rights

no. 303

The Kansas State Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday regarding the case I described in Post # 298 below. The post title above provides a link to the full text of the AP article regarding the oral arguments.

The plaintiff - donor, is arguing the unconstitutionality of a 1994 law which requires that an agreement have existed mutually acknowledging the donor's rights as father.

Seeing DI Related Illnesses That Aren't There?

no. 302

My four year old son for the last six months has had a recurring eczema problem on one of his arms. It has been mostly limited to a single spot on one arm located right below where the arm bends. We had been treating it with an over the counter cream / ointment that seemed to control it but it really never gets better and the boy doesn't help matters by scratching it. This past week we noticed another spot on the outside of his forearm on the same arm.

After reading too many blogs, including the three Donor 1084 related blogs, I have begun to get paranoid. We didn't use Donor 1084 but because DC / DI / DE issues are continually in my head due to this blog and the yahoo group, paranoia has become too easy.

Of the three known half siblings (my two kids and T) my son is the oldest so I wonder if there is an issue out there (or rather waiting in them) if he would develop it first. By nature throughout my life I am somewhat paranoid and after living through / with infertility for years (it never really goes away - we just side stepped it) you wonder when (not if) the other shoe will fall.

I pray every day these three kids will remain healthy and happy but the fears are never far away so when a little thing like eczema pops up that you know is a real issue out for other DI conceived kids the possibility of an issue becomes real.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Experimental Kids & The Seminal Search

no. 300

Three Donor Conception related articles:

Experimental Kids
World Magazine
December 9, 2006
Lynn Vincent

"Family: It’s a brave new world of alternative family models, but some “lopsided” children are beginning to speak out about what they missed growing up"

The Seminal Search
The Australian
December 2, 2006
Stephen Lunn

"Children of sperm donors in Australia are searching for their biological fathers, trying to learn more about their genealogical origins."

Lesbian Mother's Custody is Denied
The Philadelphia Enquirer
December 1, 2006
Associated Press

"The county judge had determined that Jones was preferable after comparing the two women's "psychological profiles" and because Boring Jones had tried to cut off Jones' contact with their sons."

"Jones' lawyer, Alphonso B. David, said the ruling demonstrated that custody can be shifted away from biological parents without necessarily having to prove they are unfit."


Neither of the first two articles present anything new from my point of view. The first article presents the experiences of the child of a single mother here in the United States. The second does address children born into a married opposite sex couple. I found this term interesting as I had not seen it written this way before. Both are worth reading.

The third article is to yet another case involving same sex mothers who eventually split and each file for custody. I found it interesting only due to the comment quoted above by the non-bio mother's lawyer.